Wesley Matthews had 21, and rookie point guard Yogi Ferrell scored a career-high 19 in the second game of a 10-day contract, a night after hitting clinching free throws in the final seconds of a win at Southwest Division-leading San Antonio.
James had 23 points and Kyrie Irving scored 18 – but just one between them in the fourth quarter – for the defending champs, who will be without fellow All-Star Kevin Love for Wednesday’s game against Minnesota because of recurring back spasms.
The team announced the update during the game on Love, who didn’t make the trip.
The Mavericks won for the first time after nine losses on the second night of back-to-backs, against the team that beat them by 38 in November. That was the largest winning margin of the season for the Cavaliers and the most lopsided loss for Dallas.
Ferrell, who shares an alma mater with Dallas owner Mark Cuban (Indiana), hit a 3 and a driving layup to give the Mavericks their biggest lead at 102-85.
At the next timeout, with the Cavaliers down by 15, coach Tyronn Lue pulled James and Irving after they had each missed their only two shots of the fourth quarter. They were a combined 2 of 14 from 3-point range and had 11 of Cleveland’s 17 turnovers. Dallas had just nine.
The Cavaliers were showing signs of settling down, winning two straight after a tumultuous eight-game stretch that included six losses and James questioning whether the front office was satisfied with one title.
But Cleveland fell behind for good early in the second quarter after a couple of dunks from James, who had nine rebounds and nine assists, and two twisting layups from Irving helped them wipe out a nine-point deficit in the first quarter.
Cavaliers: The Cavaliers dropped to 3-6 on the second night of back-to-backs and 3-3 without Love. … Channing Frye scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, with three 3-pointers.
Mavericks: Barned had a season-high 11 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. … Seth Curry scored 16 points, and Dwight Powell had 14 points and eight rebounds. … C Andrew Bogut was out again with a right hamstring strain after playing just eight minutes a night earlier in San Antonio. He had played the past three games after missing the previous six.